The ‘So What’ Of A Dental Exam

dental exam

You find yourself in a dental chair while the dentist examines your mouth to address your primary dental emergency. But in addition, there are a number of different things that they are noting and observing.  All of this is included and part of the dental exam.  Many confuse this oral exam with a routine dental cleaning by a dental hygienist, or wonder why it is so important. While often included with a teeth cleaning as well, a dental exam is different. Whether your dental visit is for a toothache, a chipped tooth, or another reason, we are here to break it down and help you understand what’s included in this vital dental service.

What Happens in an Exam

A process of discovery is taking place in the questions the dentist asks you as well as the visual observations they make.  While this all may seem to occur rather quickly, they are actually gathering information about your overall health and medical history.  There are many conditions in the body that affect the condition of your teeth such diabetes, thyroid issues, and more. Some medications have side effects on your oral health such as dry mouth.  Be sure to communicate about your total health with your dentist. Let them know your concerns with your dental care whether cosmetic or more practical.

Next come your teeth and gums.  Your dentist will evaluate any restorations you have in your mouth including any fillings or crowns to verify their current condition.  Some fillings can begin to leak as they age, or crowns can become loose near the gum line.  A quick check will ensure they are still providing the protection you need.  Additionally they examine all teeth and look for signs of decay  and gum disease.  Red, swollen gums are an indicator of underlying decay and early gum disease which can be easily addressed in this visit or a follow-up appointment.

By checking your bite, they can make sure all teeth are putting appropriate pressure on the opposing teeth in the mouth. They will detect if you are unknowingly grinding and wearing down the enamel on the biting surface of your teeth. Sometimes another diagnostic test like a dental x-ray will give information about the condition of the tooth and the surrounding bone that is invisible to the naked eye. Your dentist will determine which type of x-ray is best based on your needs which can include periapical (root of tooth), bite-wing (upper and lower crowns of teeth) , and panoramic x-rays (the entire mouth and jaw).

Feeling your jaw allows them to check how the joint is working and feel for abnormalities like popping or clicking, which may indicate temporal mandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder). This also allows for the dental professional to check for signs of oral cancer by feeling the sides of the neck and lymph nodes, the inside of the lips, cheeks, sides of tongue, and the roof and the floor of the mouth.  This is especially important for smokers who are more likely to develop oral cancer.

The purpose of the dental exam is to address future problems early and prevent additional damage.  Regular dental exams, whether every three to six months or when conditions demand it, play an important part in maintaining dental health. Luckily, most insurance companies see the value of this dental checkup and cover the cost.

Don’t forget when visiting your dentist, the dentist is talking to you but you are also talking to the dentist.  You can determine if the dentist aligns with the vision for your own oral health.  At Emergency Dental, you can be assured that our dentists are specialists at treating emergency dental concerns and you will receive the best care.

Many other factors including convenience and cost are listed as important factors in finding a dental practice.  At Emergency Dental, our hours on weekends and evenings and holidays make it easy to schedule an appointment around your schedule and not the other way around.  Our payment programs with little or no down payment  and affordable monthly rates make dental treatment possible even for those who aren’t covered by dental insurance.

If you are concerned by a condition in your mouth, or if you are just needing a check-up, call Emergency Dental today and see one of our dentists.  Your mouth will thank you for it!

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